Gov’t to examine legitimacy of budget cuts – President

President Donald Ramotar says that the government’s legal team is examining the legitimacy of the $37.4B cuts by the opposition to the 2014 budget.

“We are going to examine all the legal avenues to deal with this issue, and to try to stymie their plans for blocking the social and economic progress of Guyana”, Ramotar told GINA on Thursday. Government moved to the courts over the cuts made to the 2012 budget and won a ruling in its favour this year.

Ramotar charged that “the cuts that took place were aimed at not only damaging the economy, in several ways, but also aimed at damaging the social welfare of our people in general.”

Among the casualties was the administrative arm of the Office of the President, a move that President Ramotar said may well be unconstitutional. “I don’t think our constitution envisaged that the office of the chief executive would be hamstrung by cuts from the opposition, the constitution never envisaged this, and I think it may be unconstitutional because it affects the functioning of the Office of the President”.

Also affected is the security detail of the Head of State and the state media entities, National Communications Network and the Government Information Agency (GINA).

By their actions, the president said that the opposition’s “words and deeds were far apart”. He contended that all of the money to be spent was the subject of exhaustive questions by opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) and the information required was provided. The opposition has charged that a lot of the money was intended for electioneering.

The slashing of funds for the health sector, “really boggles the mind” said the president, particularly since he said that state-of-the-art health care is only affordable to the wealthy.

The opposition voted down $910M for the specialty hospital and in so doing affected hostels, doctors’ quarters, ambulances and medical equipment, GINA said. The opposition is unhappy over how the contract for the hospital was assigned and other matters.

“There is a lot of sympathy being shown to us, at this point in time from many of these investors in recognising the efforts that are being made to hold down and slow down development”, Ramotar said.

He added that government is asking investors) to be understanding, “but we are committed to the development of our country, and therefore our country is open to investment, local and foreign so that we can improve our capacity, so we can expand on the goods and services that we give to our people”.

 

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